Ah, Friday night at the Film Forum for two helpings of Brit Noir. Did William Hartnell ever play a wholly sympathetic character? (As much as I love the First Doctor, he is not a particularly nice person.) If he did, it wasn’t in Hell Drivers (1957), in which he and Patrick McGoohan conspire against ex-con Stanley Baker (seeking redemption for the crime that put him “inside” and condemned little brother David McCallum to a life on crutches) after he learns that they’ve been cheating him and his fellow drivers (who include Sean Connery and Gordon Jackson). Before that, I had the pleasure of watching Peter Sellers give a funny, frightening turn as a crooked garage owner whose car thieves’ ring and chop shop steal a brand-new, uninsured Ford Anglia from the wrong lipstick salesman in Never Let Go (1960). If you’ve ever wanted to see Inspector Clouseau administer a serious beatdown, this is your film.
I had a good time at the Dreamland Orchestra’s fund-raising gala on Saturday, despite the series of minor meltdowns preceding it: Mystery of the Vanishing Keys; Runaway Bobby Pins; Misadventures with Maquillage, or, the Return of Zombie Girl; and The Most Incompetent Driver in Queens (“Union Street, that’s in Flatbush, right?” “Carroll Gardens. In Brooklyn.”) Also, I won the silent auction for the RockLove jewelry set by placing the only bid.
Sunday was my friend Dave’s fiancée Cara’s bridal shower. I’d never been to a shower, since most of my friends are still single and my married cousins tend to live on the opposite side of the country, when they aren’t on entirely different continents. So that was...interesting. I won my table’s centerpiece, a cheerful little plant with yellow flowers in a smiley-face pot. I’ve dubbed it The Comedian.
After the shower I went to Film Forum for another Brit Noir double bill. First was Gaslight (1940), based on the same play as the version that MGM released four years later. I liked Anton Walbrook (the ballet impresario of The Red Shoes) as the villain and Frank Pettingill as the investigator more than their respective successors, Charles Boyer and Jospeh Cotten, though the hero did have a better motive in the later film. Diana Wynyard was every bit as good as Ingrid Bergman in the role of the tormented wife, and she had a great bit of business with the knife during her final confrontation with her husband. The second movie was Hatter’s Castle (1942), a thoroughly deranged story about an ambitious Scottish haberdasher, James Brodie (Robert Newton, AKA “Long John Silver”), with pretensions to a noble lineage, a monopoly on the town’s custom, a saucy mistress, a long-suffering wife, a daughter (Deborah Kerr) who catches the eye of a kindly doctor (James Mason) even though she’s practically sleeping in cinders, a nervous and anemic schoolboy son, and a ridiculous house that is the source of the title. Guess how much of that he has left by the film’s end.
A triumphant return to ljdq! I’m one of 41 who gave the obvious answer to #1; quoted in full on #2; shared credit with four others on #4 (and it was my version quoted); partial quote for #5; and received full credit for quoting They Might Be Giants in response to #6. \o/